Activation energy

 

The energy required to cause a specific reaction to occur. In diffusion-related processes, the activation energy is related to the energy required to move an atom from one lattice site to another.

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Distinct states correspond to minima of a potential energy surface in a configuration space. In this classical picture, the activation energy for transforming state A into state B is the maximum increase in energy (relative to the ground state of A) encountered on a minimum-energy path from A to B. Energy here refers to potential energy; an analogous definition based on free energy can be constructed. When tunneling is considered, lower energy paths become possible, but an activation energy can be associated with the reaction (at a given temperature) via the relationship between temperature and reaction rate.

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Catalyst

Barrier height

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